No imports, no problem for the Zamboanga Valientes.
Despite playing without two of their high-profile reinforcements, the team managed to secure an 82-79 victory over Misamis Oriental, Wednesday at the Mayor Vitaliano Agan Coliseum in Zamboanga.
The absence of two-time NBA champion Mario Chalmers and former PBA import Renaldo Balkman did not deter the Valientes, who put on a dominant performance against their rivals.
Five players ended up scoring in double figures, with former San Beda stalwart James Kwekuteye leading the charge with 20 points, including four triples. Kwekuteye also contributed four rebounds and three steals to the team’s victory.
Jeremy Arthur also played a crucial role in the game, adding 16 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. Former PBA player Rudy Lingganay also made his mark with 15 points, six rebounds, and five assists.
Meanwhile, Tosh Sesay had an impressive double-double performance with 11 points and 11 rebounds, while forward John Amores contributed 10 points to the team’s tally.
Despite the Valientes’ victory, Misamis Oriental’s Lassina Coulibaly, a big man from the University of Visayas, put on an excellent performance, scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
In another game in the tournament, McDaviz ZamPen outlasted Cagayan de Oro with a 90-83 victory.
Henry Iloka, a 3 x 3 standout, was the driving force behind ZamPen’s victory, flirting with a triple-double performance with 24 points, 17 rebounds, and nine assists.